Afraid of the Light

Location: Hampton, Virginia, United States

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Continuity 4: Things Fall Apart

The following post contains SPOILERS regarding House of M, The Omac Project, and current events in the ongoing Batman title.

Before I started writing all of this, I was thinking about Batman. Tim O'Neil has been doing some thinking of his own over at The Hurting, and while I don't have the level of distaste for the character that he does, there are certainly some cracks in the structure of Batman's corner of the DC universe.

Recent months have seen the reveal of the true identity of the Red Hood; Jason Todd is alive and waging his own war on the criminals of Gotham. Jason gave a speech to Batman about how he would do all of the things that Bruce was unwilling to do; he would take the lives of criminals if he felt it was necessary. Unfortunately, anyone who's been reading comics for any amount of time, and is older than the age of five, will be able to figure out that what that means is the red Hood will gun down some no-name street thugs, and perhaps one or two mid-level "name" supervillains will be sacrificed in order to give him credibility.

Of course, the one villain who he'd be most likely to kill will remain on this side of the veil.

Jason Todd was originally "killed" by the Joker, who administered a vicious beating with a crowbar before blowing Robin up real good, as memory serves. Jason has enjoyed a bit of payback--he laid his own crowbar to the Joker--but of course, the beating wasn't fatal. More than most members of Batman's rogues gallery, Joker is a character that readers cannot apply logical thought processes to without coming to the conclusion that he really ought to be deceased by now. The character has been portrayed as a mass murderer many times over, and despite his insanity, poisons and gadgetry, is basically a normal human being, physiologically speaking. Any entity that had caused so much devastation, and had escaped from confinement so many times, would surely have been targeted by some other superhero, vigilante, or angry mob of citizens laying siege to Arkham by now, even if one assumes that Batman himself would not take any action.

Batman doesn't always hold up to extended scrutiny either. Does his vow to his dead parents mean that when someone commits a crime in his city, he'll beat them up, but anything after that is someone else's problem? Does he believe in the law just enough for them to take care of his follow-through so he doesn't have to? I mean, we're talking about a man who developed an intricate network of spy satellites that can keep track of basically every person on planet Earth, if current issues of The OMAC Project are to be believed, and that was to keep an eye on his friends. (Well, perhaps "friends" is too strong of a word . . . let's say "colleagues," then.)

Following that line of thought, why didn't he use the satellites to monitor every inch of Gotham City in order to control crime? You would think that anyone with control issues on that level would at least become frustrated with Arkham Asylum's revolving door, and would do something about it. Bruce Wayne could buy the asylum and upgrade the security. Batman could drag every crook in town to the cave and keep them drugged up on drip-feeds in Matrix body pods. There are plenty of paths that are more logical than his current actions, particularly if one wishes to write Batman and stay true to his current extra-paranoid asshat portrayal.

The issue, of course, is that Batman's trademarks have to be maintained, as do the Joker's and Catwoman's and other merchandisable members of the Batman Family. The illusion of change may reign from time to time, but status quo must be maintained. No matter what situations may arise, the force of inertia will eventually return the flagship icons back to center. Not long ago, in the Superman books, Luthor was elected President of the United States, and shortly thereafter, learned Superman's secret identity. I thought at the time that it was a bold move, and I wondered what kind of stories we'd see when a man with the resources of a country behind him could now meddle with his enemy's entire life. I shouldn't have gotten myself excited; Luthor was mindwiped of that knowledge within a year.

Of course, this sort of problem is always going to be worst with the primary icons who have sold lunchboxes and Underoos for decades. We've had a few different characters step into the shoes of "guy-with-magic-ring" and "guy-who-runs-fast" or "guy-who-shrinks-and-junk." Even there, though, sometimes I find that if I think too hard about the details of a given story, tugging on one thread can make the whole thing fall apart.

The longer a character has been around, the more likely it is that this will be a problem; the chances of contradicting earlier setups or creating adventures based on idiot plots seems to increase with time. In Marvel's House of M, the series started off with a gathering of heroes who were discussing killing the Scarlet Witch due to her reality-altering powers. We-ell, if her mutant power is the problem, why not put one of those power-negating collars on her that they had in Genosha? (Which reminds me--Rogue really should have picked one of those up.) Or, alternately, why not have Forge zap her with the mutant-power-removing gun that he used on Storm all those years ago? Then there's also the "mutant cure" recently concocted in Astonishing X-Men--a title that half of the heroes in the room appear in. It's difficult for me to buy into a situation where then only option discussed is euthanasia, when someone in the room could have--and should have--mentioned other possibilities. If you want to spend a couple of panels with Magneto saying that he won't let his daughter be "neutered" or something, that might be aceptable, but ignoring the possibility entirely veers into "idiot plot" territory.

When the hype on books like House of M proclaims that "nothing will be the same," it's difficult to get too worked up about it. There will still be an X-Men movie next year, and a Spider-Man movie after that. Of course, the original Crisis on Infinite Earths surprised me quite a bit at the time, so one never knows, I suppose.

Ah, well. Don't mind me. I'm just processing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Continuity 3: "The Man"

I consider Stan Lee to be the second father of continuity because in those early days of the Marvel of the sixties, Stan was writing every title, and was the architect that made the Marvel Universe into a creation that was consistent with each of the company's titles. Marvel heroes bumped into each other farly frequently, and if there was a large event that certain heroes were absent for, there was probably a footnote explaining how those characters were in Latveria or the Negative Zone or something. Along with the new layers of characterization that he gave to his characters, Lee's worldbuilding attracted the attention of many readers.

Of course, even when only one person is responsible for writing a group of titles, it can still be difficult to keep track of everything. That's why the No-Prize was invented, after all. Of course, the logistics of maintaining a comics universe are even more complicated today; Marvel's X-titles alone outnumber the titles that Stan had to handle. The Ultimate universe, created in part to deliver stories about classic characters without the burdens of decades of history, has already had some inconsistencies in its continuity, particularly in regards to the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom (and their initial portrayals in Ultimate Team-Up). The current House of M event may be an attempt to "clean up" the Marvel Universe, in the way that DC has previously tried with crossovers such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour (and may be again with Infinite Crisis).

Dc seems to be putting great effort into its universe at present, with Geoff Johns installed as head Continuity Cop leading up to the Crisis; there have been some hiccups, but the road to the Big Event has actually gone relatively smoothly, considering the number of titles that seem to be involved. Over at Marvel, change seems to be in the air as well; relationships between separate titles had been fairly loose in the Jemas/Quesada era, but current events seem to be pointing toward a more unified Marvel Universe once again.

Tighter universes can make for good reading, but as with many things, the results will depend on the execution. When I look at events like the original Crisis, I see creators who want to follow in the footsteps of Roy and Stan, who want to answer questions and "fix" things while unifying their respective universes. In and of themselves, there's nothing wrong with these desires; good comics can come of them, if continuity is used as a tool in service of a good story. Alan Moore's "finale' for Superman comes to mind, of course. Mark Waid and Barry Kitson are doing a good job on the new Legion title, sometimes using expectations based on past incarnations of the Legion and subverting them to surprising effect. Don Rosa took snippets and samples from Carl Barks' Disney Duck stories, and used them to craft The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, which I'm currently enjoying immensely. I think Kurt Busiek is another good example . . . that reminds me--I need to re-read Avengers Forever.

If, however, the story isn't told well--or worse, there's no "story" there at all, just retcon-fetishising--then the results may be poor. Moreover, while it may be impossible to fully visualize all of the potential implications of a "fix", creators should certainly make the effort to consider the follow-through of their actions to avoid situations like "the Hawkman problem." (I enjoyed the original Hawkworld mini-series, and it would have been fine if they had simply inserted that into Hawkman's origin, but then they decided to have him come to Earth for the first time right after Invasion!, and everything fell apart.)

This problem is evident in other media--television shows and movie sequels sometimes fail to maintain the tone of previous installments--but it's especially pronounced in a medium like comics, where the adventures of characters like Superman and Batman have been published continually every month for over sixty years. Continuous publication of licensable characters can lead to some fallacies of logic that no amount of continuity patches can correct . . .

. . . I guess I'll talk about that next time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Continuity 2: "The Boy" and his children

Continuity, as we understand it today, has two fathers.

One of them is Roy Thomas. Roy grew up in the forties reading Golden Age comics and worked on the first comics fanzine with Dr. Jerry Bails before becoming a comics professional. My personal familiarity with Thomas' work largely concerns his "Earth 2" work at DC on titles like All-Star Squadron (set during WW2 and intertwined with the previously-printed Justice Society tales in All-Star Comics) and Infinity, Inc. (the present day stories of a super-team made up of the children of the JSA), but Roy also did some work at Marvel, and was their editor-in-chief for a time; I remember reading issues of his run on Invaders, which groupd Captain America, the golden age Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner together as a WW2 team (along with Bucky and Toro, of course).

Mr. Thomas is, I believe, the first and best example of a comics fan getting the chance to work on the characters he grew up with. Comics in the Golden Age were uncomplicated in certain ways, but some of the issues that comics writers were taking for granted raised questions in the mind of young Roy. The Flash originally left the Justice Society of America because he had received his own solo title, and any members popular enough to have their own titles became honorary members. It actually said that was the reason in the pages of the actual issue of All-Star. Of course, that explanation makes no sense within a storyline, unless all the characters know they're just in a comic book. So as Roy went on and began writing comics, he came up with explanations why Green Lantern was only chairman of the JSA for one meeting (in the real world, he was another member to receive a solo title) and the like.

The effects of this today can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. Readers today certainly expect a certain amount of consistency from one issue to the next, and that's natural. Sometimes, however, bad ideas or poorly-executed stories come about, and it may be for the best if some of those are simply forgotten. The same may hold true for good stories, for that matter; I'm sure there are currently a fair number of fans of the JLI era who would have prefered that certain characters simply be left alone, rather than be brought out of mothballs only to have their grey matter aired out and/or stepped on.

Brad Meltzer is, I'm convinced, one of the Children of Roy. I am of the opinion that a large part of his motivation to write Identity Crisis was a desire to "explain" some of the slightly-nonsensical bits of the Silver Age. In those days, it was perfectly acceptable to partially mindwipe the entire population of Earth if it meant hiding the secret identities of the JLA. I believe Brad wanted to look at the "consequences" of those actions under the lens of today's post-Watchmen comics. I don't think that was the big thing for him, though. I see a kid reading his issues of Justice League of America and Teen Titans, and wondering why Doctor Light acted so differently in one title than he did in the other. Comic-book logic might have lead that kid to decide that the Justice League must have done something to Doctor Light to make him act differently. Then, perhaps, he might have wondered to himself, what could Light have done that was so evil that the Justice League would take his personality away, when they haven't done that to anyone else?

A good friend of mine once said that Brad Meltzer wrote the story he did because he's not a fan. I think he might be too much of a fan.

So who's the other father of modern continuity? Oh that's Stan Lee, of course.

But I'll talk about him next time.

I'm still thinking.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Thoughts on Continuity

Recently I was in the mood to re-read Grant Morrison's run on JLA. I haven't looked at those issues--or any JLA on a regular basis, honestly--in years. I enjoyed reading them again, but I found myself contemplating the relative merits and pitfalls of continuity.

In the first story arc with the Hyperclan, Superman has long hair; the Mullet of Steel was added at the tail end of the Death and Return of Superman. Immediately following that arc, we have Electric Blue Superman for some time. During the Injustice Gang arc, Wonder Woman is dead, and the Flash is out injured for one or two issues--just enough time to cover the issues in Flash's own book where the injury occurred. The Flash does manage to heal up in time to appear for the rest of that story, but Diana remains dead, or a goddess, or whatever her status was at that time. In the following arc, which saw membership in the League double, Diana's mother Hippolyta is a member of the JLA as the then-active Wonder Woman.

There are various other examples of this, such as the "dark Flash" who was briefly a member in Wally's absence, but the most notable (in my opinion) was the issue of JLA that attempted to explain why no superheroes intervened in Gotham during the No Man's Land period; the attempted "continuity graft" was more noticeable than usual, since the timing of "No Man's land" meant that this issue was shoved in the middle of Grant Morrison's ongoing final arc, World War Three, with a different creative team. I believe Mark Waid wrote that one, and it was pretty good for what it was trying to accomplish, but it was jarring when compared to the flow of the story it interrupted.

When re-reading Morrison's run, I started thinking that perhaps they should have been written out of continuity with the DCUniverse at large. Superman could have been the classic Superman in every story. The Flashes, Green Lanterns, and Wonder Women could have remained consistent. Morrison's JLA stories would have potentially been a classic group of arcs without the small, incomprehensible bits that fly past all but the most hardcore of comics readers--I should say, hardcore DCUniverse comics readers. One of my favorite books of last year was Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier, which constructed its own internal continuity. (I really wish that DC had published it in a single trade paperback, instead of two, since it's a standalone story. Well, perhaps it'll be collected that way in a future edition.) One of the best examples of the power of the standalone story is Watchmen. It has been asked before: would that story be as enduring if it used the Charlton characters that its cast was based on? Would it have been as well-received by fandom if that had been captain Atom instead of Doctor Manhattan, the Question in place of Rorshach? (Of course, the Question has since seen a few Rorshach-esque interpretations, but . . . )

Of course, this is all in hindsight; at the time, I'm sure I appreciated the fact that JLA was "in continuity". If Morrison had only used "classic" versions of the characters, as Alex Ross will be doing in his upcoming Justice project, then I might not have seen Morrison's take on Kyle Rayner, which went much farther than his own series did in terms of making me care about that character. Moreover, when it's done well, it can be fun to see the further ramifications of actions or events of a particular title. Of course, that can certainly be overdone. Peter David has been back on the Hulk for a few short months, and he's already involved in the House of M crossover, while his new title, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, will be involved in a crossover with all three main Spider-titles for its first three issues. I was looking forward to trying out a new, standalone Spider-Man book, and this crossover situation makes the book less appealing. Continuity with the other books be damned--I just want to read a book with a good creative team on an interesting character.

A writer with skill can use continuity as a tool that enhances his or her stories. Dan Slott's recent Spider-man/Human Torch mini-series is a good example; each issue took place during a different "era", with one story set during the Spidermobile days, and another set when Spidey had the alien costume and Torch had that funky John Byrne haircut. It all built to an excellent final issue set in today's New Avengers era, which I don't want to spoil, but I will say that it's recommended reading for any fans of those characters.

So continuity in and of itself isn't necessarily evil. Even while reading those JLA stories, I found myself smiling occasionally, remembering certain bits of other stories that I had completely forgotten about. I'd say that the Electric Blue Superman stories in and of themselves were somewhat forgettable--at least, I had forgotten them--but Grant Morrison used him to good effect. Perhaps like many other things, the value of continuity depends on how it's used.

I'm still thinking about it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Countdown to Infinite Crisis

Early last year, I was thinking about Hypertime.

I'm not sure what sparked the train of thought, but it was probably the beginning of Chuck Austen's run on Action Comics. I gave the first few issues a try; despite everything I'd heard about his work on the X-franchise, I wanted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, considering previous stories that had popped up here and there regarding editorial interference (not just with Austen, but with several X-writers). His take on Superman's personality had its roots in the original, Golden Age portrayal of the character. It was a bit too far past his present-day status for me to be entirely comfortable with a Superman who talked so much smack to his adversaries (although his ideas could have potentially served as an excellent take on Superboy).

To be honest, though, I was more irritated by his use of Gog. Superman was basically hospitalized by Gog in Austen's second or third issue (going by memory here), which in itself is fine, particularly since Gog's whole deal was traveling backwards through time/Hypertime and killing Superman every time he stopped. The problem I had was that Superman clearly didn't recognize Gog; Austen was treating him as if he was a new character, when Superman had definitely met him in the Kingdom mini-series. Small continuity gaffes don't bother me--I'm not applying for any No-Prizes--but when you have a story that's presented as a Big Deal Event and then completely disregard it without any attempt at an explanation, that's going to create a disconnect for me. Now, if that's part of the story a writer is trying to tell--"Why doesn't Superman remember?"--then that writer needs to establish that (in my opinion, anyway).

At any rate, the return of Gog reminded me of the concept of Hypertime. I remembered at one point Mark Waid and Grant Morrison had grand plans for Hypertime, but they both left DC shortly thereafter. They were both back and preparing new series. Morrison was doing interviews about Seven Soldiers, in which he would be creating new versions of some older characters. Waid was preparing to do a reboot of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Connecting those projects led me to a conclusion: DC was going to have another Crisis.

Well, that seems to be definite now, but it seems I was completely wrong about the creators who would be handling it. Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, and Judd Winick are the architects of DC: Countdown to Infinite Crisis, on sale next week (though several people have already read preview copies).It makes sense to coordinate things through these three writers; after all, Johns writes Flash, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, JSA, and now JLA (for at least five issues, co-writing with Allan (Young Avengers) Heinberg, while Rucka has one of the main Superman titles as well as Wonder Woman, and Winick covers Batman, Green Arrow, and Outsiders. Between the three of them, the core of the DCU is covered, so they can interweave plot threads between them with little trouble.

Bits and pieces of the greater tapestry of Infinite Crisis will no doubt be spread throughout the DCU titles over the next year, so any DC fan who wants to know everything will have quite a bit of reading to do. Already, there was a brief scene in the last issue of Teen Titans with Batman and Batgirl that I don't fully understand; apparently it was a glimpse at current events in Outsiders, a book I don't read (though I'll be ordering the two issues that explicitly cross over with TT). If you want to know why DC is doing this (aside from the desire to make more money), it's this: they're giving us what we think we want.

The original Crisis on Infinite Earths was noted for many things; one of them was a phenomenon called "red sky crossovers." a term still used today. Over the course of the twelve months that Crisis was published, pretty much every DCU book had a minimum of one issue that billed itself as a "Crisis crossover," but sometimes the only thing the story had in common with Crisis is that the skies were red, and otherwise had nothing whatsoever to do with it. As recently as Avengers: Disassembled, some readers complained that the "Disassembled" tales for Spider-man and the Fantastic Four were "red sky" stories. Avengers editor Tom Brevoort has stated that Marvel had heard previous reader complaints about being required to purchase every issue of several titles in order to follow one storyline, and they had tried to address that complaint with Disassembled. Marvel seems to have swung back in the other direction for"House of M," with crossovers in other titles as well as additional mini-series. DC is doing the same, but over what appears to be a longer term, with the previously-discussed story elements in several DCU titles as well and a handful of mini-series directly following DC: Countdown.

DC's strategy has to be seen as successful so far. When the new logo for DC: Countdown was revealed last Friday, the Comic News Intarweb was basically shut down due to server overload. People are clearly interested. Editorial seems to be focusing in on the aspects of Crisis that made it work the first time. One of those aspects was its massive scope, and there seems to be a clear plan laid out to incorporate all the corners of the DCUniverse (Outer space guys? Check. Magic dudes? Check.) while maintaining a tighter control over the event. Of course, another factor that made Crisis a "must-read" was the rising death-toll of the series . . .

. . . I have some reservations based on some of the comments I've seen regarding DC: Countdown, but I haven't yet read it for myself. I'll likely have more to say about it (and Identity Crisis) after I do. This year is definitely going to be . . . interesting.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Ultimate Spider-Man (and a couple more books)

My first exposure to the work of Bendis was Ultimate Spider-Man.

Wait, that’s not true—actually, it was the Daredevil: Ninja mini-series. It had Daredevil and ninjas—easy money, right? That mini was . . . not my cup of tea, and probably why I passed on it when he took over the actual Daredevil title. (I wasn’t reading the previous stuff by Kevin Smith, Bob Gale, or David Mack anyway.) At any rate, when USM was first announced, I was skeptical, having sampled John Byrne’s Spider-Man reboot attempt and found it not to my liking. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give it a try; after dropping all of the regular Spiderbooks in the aftermath of the Clone Saga, I was hoping to find one Spider-man title that was . . . well, at least readable.

Ultimate Spider-Man came out, and it was good.

Last year, Tales of Wonder had a sale on their USM hardcovers, offering the first three HCs for $34.95. It was a deal I couldn’t pass up, so I passed along my trades and some singles to some friends at DragonCon in September. I gave them everything except for the arc that had just started, “Carnage.”

It was while reading this arc that I began to have doubts about Bendis.

One of the appeals of the Ultimate universe is that it takes characters and concepts that long-time readers are familiar with, and presents them in different ways. In USM, the new takes on characters like Doctor Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, and the Enforcers were interesting and entertaining, but of all the re-imaginings, my favorite was Gwen Stacy.

The original Gwen Stacy died a couple of months before I was born, so while I’ve read a fair amount of the classic material she was in, I can’t say that I’m heavily invested in that character. I feel I know enough, though, to say that Bendis’ Gwen was very different from the original, with a distinct personality. (Actually, you could say that about Mary Jane as well.) She added something different to the mix of the book, and MJ’s jealousy issues with her promised further conflict down the road. I looked forward to the day when Gwen found out Peter’s secret—it seemed inevitable—and wondered how the relationships would change between the three of them because of that knowledge. Then . . . she was gone.

I’ve heard it said by some creators that one of the reasons why they try not to speak about certain new books or upcoming plot points is that the fans all immediately begin to write the comic (or book, or movie, or what-have-you) in their head, and the more time they have to play out those internal scenarios, the more disappointed they are when the actual material comes out and it doesn’t match what they’d been visualizing. Perhaps that’s true, to an extent, in my case. However, USM wasn’t the only Bendis title I was reading. The Avengers Disassembled event was going down, and it didn’t work for me. Overall, I felt that too many people were acting out of character in order to make the story work; all due respect, but simply being told to “read it again, knowing what I now know about Wanda” doesn’t quite plug enough holes for this reader. I still thought (and think) that Bendis is a hell of a writer, but between The Pulse, Secret War, Daredevil, New Avengers, Powers, and USM, he had put too much on his plate—that’s a lot of books for one guy to write, not even counting his work on the Jinx screenplay and the semi-secret USM video game that I expect will be announced at E3 this May.

So the issues following the Carnage arc were a little light, a palate-cleanser after all the heavy stuff that went down, and they were okay, but I didn’t really know how I felt about the book . . . Bagley was still great (though the newer inks by Scott Hanna were a little funky in a couple of places), but I had doubts that the writing would maintain the level of quality established in the first couple of years (or, alternately, that my feelings about the changed elements of the title would affect my enjoyment to the point that I personally would find the book to be of lesser quality—how’s that for being fair?); I knew that the next big arc would focus on Harry Osborn, and I hoped that it would kick USM back up a notch.

Well, I’ve just read Ultimate Spider-Man #74 . . . and it’s made me remember why I love this book. There's a bit of action served up with the high school angst. Peter’s life is screwed up, just the way we like it (apparently). Harry’s beginning to make his moves. We finally have a chat with a character we’ve glimpsed before—and I hope she’s able to stick around for a while. Mary Jane’s going to be in the middle of things, and it looks like it’s going to be ugly. I can't say too much more without entering spoiler territory, but this is the good stuff, people. 9/10

What else did I pick up yesterday?

Ultimates 2 #4—the Ultimates meet up with some European flag-wearing super-soldiers and find out more about the mighty Thor. Oh, and Tony gets Natasha a new outfit. Millar’s take on Thor has been one of the most interesting facets of the Ultimates; the info given this issue very much appears to be solid (my supposition is based entirely on one panel on page eighteen), but I want to know more. I’m enjoying Hitch’s pencils more now that he’s back with Paul Neary on inks; Andrew Currie’s work was more ”scratchy”, if that makes any sense . . . more gritty. Neary’s work is clearer, but still dark enough for the subject matter. 8/10

Teen Titans #22—the Titans’ battle with Doctor Light kicks into gear. Geoff Johns has thought of some interesting applications for the Doctor’s abilities; I never would have come up with a couple of those bits. We get an appearance by Hawk and Dove as well, and the pairing seems to be very appropriate; I believe Scott will approve. It looks like next issue will be the big mega-Titan throw-down. We have more threads from Identity Crisis here, but Johns seems to be handling them well so far; we’ll see where he ends up. 7.5/10

Coming from DCBS at the end of the month: Wonder Woman #214 (the second part of the crossover with Flash), Black Panther #2, Incredible Hulk #79, and Young Avengers #2.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Previews for May

I had intended to have some comic reviews up by now. I'll be receiving some books in the mail next week, so I'll definitely get caught up in the next week or so. In the meantime, I picked up the new Previews at my local comic shop on Wednesday, so I may as well take a look at everything else I'm considering for the month of May.

Dark Horse has another issue of Conan. There's also a Conan mini-series by P. Craig Russell . . . I won't be picking up the singles, but I'll consider the eventual trade. Russell's definitely got some fantasy art chops.

AIT/Planetlar has a new TP for True Story: Swear To God. I've heard nothing but good things about the first volume, and especially TSSTG: 100 Stories . . . and those two are resolicited here, along with the new TP (This One Goes To 11). I'm still hemming and hawing a little here, but I'll probably take the plunge and pick these up. Randy and Tegan have some reviews, if you're interested.

Slave Labor Graphics is re-offering Egg Story. I can't find my copy . . . maybe I'll pick up another, and if the first one turns up it'll become a gift. Here's the solicitation copy:

These eggs talk. And in their conversations they decide that sitting in a cold, dark refrigerator waiting to get gobbled up is definitely not for them. So they stage a daring escape. Carefree, the eggs have loads of fun. But life takes a grim turn when one of them turns into a suicidal maniac who yearns to become a souffle, and it all ends up tragically (and messily) on the kitchen floor. What does an egg do after witnessing so much pointless, random death and destruction? For Feather, a good-hearted boy egg, the answer is simple. He becomes a ninja.

Hmmm . . . Digital Manga has the first two volumes of Worst listed. I just read Dorian's review of the first one recently . . . sounded decent. I need to broaden my manga horizons.

Damn you, DR Master! Where's the next volume of Iron Wok Jan? Don't play with my emotions, man!

Oni Press is offering Sharknife once again, for those who didn't see Warren Ellis' recommendation in time to order it before.

I see that Viz has the first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist coming up. I've been digging the show on AdultSwim, which is based on this manga (as opposed to the other way around). I have enjoyed both manga and anime in the past, but there's just so much product on the market nowadays that I had to take off my "Hardcore!!!!!" cap and throw it back in the closet. I know I want to check out Samurai Champloo, solely because it's by the Cowboy Bebop team (and I want to see what Yoko Kanno does with hip-hop music), but other than that, I'm slow to dip my toes in the water . . . though I do appreciate the reviews and recommendations from fellow inhabitants of the blogosphere.

Okay, time to get caught up on my reading . . .